Why Ugliness Matters: NPR

crush custom a7ef9b5f56f865aef0338dba66a3da2421e00a4d

There's something so ugly about crushing an acoustic guitar. It makes it buckle, causing the center of it to explode into splinters. That might be personal for me, as someone who grew up with a father who was what you might call a campfire guitarist – not an artist, but a father who entertained us with songs like “Dark as a Dungeon,” a bit of folk. tune about the deadly dangers of mining. Maybe it's not the guitar for you. Maybe it's the cameras or the vinyl records.

A little more than halfway the new ad for 'the thinnest Apple product ever' a huge hydraulic press presses down on an acoustic guitar – and cameras, and records, and other things that hold a reservoir of emotions for people who make art. Paint, pencils, a seamstress, books, a wooden model of a person, a not-yet-dry clay bust, a video game cabinet. Everything is crushed under his power. But the most spectacular crushes are those of musical instruments: that guitar, a piano, a drum set, a trumpet that stands on its end until it collapses.

YouTube

The ad – that Apple has since apologized – is meant to communicate, I think, that this small, thin iPad can hold the most important of all these things. It can replace them all. You can make your music with it. You can paint with it. You can play games on it. You can take your photos with it. And it suggests that this means you can finally do that destroy all those things that have been so taxing, like massive pianos and messy paint.

But these aren't practical items to begin with. No one owns a piano because it is practical; it's about the least practical thing you can own. It can damage your floor. It goes out of tune. And when you get a new home, you don't just need movers; you might need special movers. You don't have a piano to get from point A to point B as directly as possible. You own a piano because we had one in my house: someone plays it. Someone sits down, like my mother did, and plays the 'Maple Leaf Rag', and you can hear the pedals squeaking slightly, and you can see the hands sliding over the keys, and of course you're listening to music – but those are also the your mother's hands.

Of course, to be fair, the ad is also intended to cause controversy, because you don't crush beautiful things and accidentally offend them. The ad says almost nothing about the iPad itself, other than that it is very thin; the point is all the crushing, the point is the ugliness, it is admitted, of recognizing that ugliness serves the purpose of the advertisement.

But the ugliness also proves the folly of the concept. The reason people are reacting as emotionally to the vulgarity of the ad is precisely why the thinnest iPad yet can't do what they say it will do. It cannot replace the things that humans have learned over hundreds of years to carry and live alongside, and to integrate into their creation of what they hope will be beauty. Art is intertwined with humanity, with all its flawed dimensions, and the two cannot be separated. In making art there is family, there are friends and collaborators, there is both vulnerability and permanence, and there is the passage of time. And there is physicality.

In our current environment, the ad plays as an extension of, or perhaps a complement to, the idea that artificial intelligence – or whatever goes by that name – can take over the production of art: of books, of illustrations, of music, of films . We are undergoing an all-out assault on the need for everyone's idiosyncratic individuality to be involved in the creation of art. It's an attempt to reduce creative acts to devices with the right capabilities, to the point where machines can make it all entirely without us. In this view, we will order a book or movie as we do with mass-produced fast fashion, and as such it will be cheap, disposable, and dependent on the exploitation of labor.

But the very fact that Apple knew this ad would make people so angry is how you know this reductive approach to art is doomed to failure. The people who created this ad specifically chose to crush things that are valuable, not just because of their abilities, but because they are things that creative people give meaning to, save for, and pass on to their children. Those things won't be replaced by iPads.

You can make beautiful music with an iPad; you can create beautiful digital art. But that art will be made alongside other music, other art, not piled on the corpses of old violins. If you see new frontiers in art as an opportunity to destroy sculptures or explode bottles of paint, you have never understood art at all, and never will.

In certain types of stories, “I'm not worried” is the last thing you say before the monster devours you. But while I worry about the economics of art and its creation, I have no fear at all that man-made art will one day disappear or be replaced by the thinnest iPad ever. The gasp that came from so many people when they saw that guitar explode, that sound came from the part of a person that makes art. And that part instinctively understands that beauty is not fixated on the dominance of the technical world. You don't have to crush what you love to chase the fantasy of being able to fit everything that matters into the pocket of a briefcase.

Related Posts

Alec Baldwin Case Dismissed: NPR

Attorney Luke Nikas, right, embraces actor Alec Baldwin. Ramsay de Give/AFP hide caption switch caption Ramsay de Give/AFP This is a developing story. Santa Fe Judge Mary Marlowe Sommer has…

'Sing Sing' Avoids Simplified Stories of Hope: NPR

Colman Domingo as John “Divine G” Whitfield and Clarence “Divine Eye” Maclin as themselves. A24 hide caption switch caption A24 It is crucial and ominous that Sing sing begins on…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You Missed

S&P drops, yen rises, Tesla drops

  • July 13, 2024
S&P drops, yen rises, Tesla drops

3 Colorado poultry workers test positive for bird flu

  • July 13, 2024
3 Colorado poultry workers test positive for bird flu

New ways to study spinal cord malformations in embryos

  • July 13, 2024
New ways to study spinal cord malformations in embryos

Macron's gamble on early French elections 'didn't pay off', says professor

  • July 13, 2024
Macron's gamble on early French elections 'didn't pay off', says professor

Wie moet USMNT inhuren om Berhalter te vervangen? Analyse van Klopp, Pochettino, Vieira en anderen

  • July 13, 2024
Wie moet USMNT inhuren om Berhalter te vervangen? Analyse van Klopp, Pochettino, Vieira en anderen

School collapse in Nigeria kills at least 16 students during exams

  • July 13, 2024
School collapse in Nigeria kills at least 16 students during exams

Paris Olympic ticket fraud on the rise ahead of the Summer Games. Here’s what to watch out for.

  • July 13, 2024
Paris Olympic ticket fraud on the rise ahead of the Summer Games. Here’s what to watch out for.

USWNT vs. Mexico live stream: Prediction, TV channel, how to watch online, time, news, odds

  • July 13, 2024
USWNT vs. Mexico live stream: Prediction, TV channel, how to watch online, time, news, odds

Biden is faltering. Trump’s plan? Let it happen.

  • July 13, 2024
Biden is faltering. Trump’s plan? Let it happen.

Scientific Tricks to Keep Your Bouquets Looking Fresh

  • July 13, 2024
Scientific Tricks to Keep Your Bouquets Looking Fresh

Waarom voelt Robert Macintyre zich aangetrokken tot Oban, Schotland? Een bezoek aan het huis van de PGA Tour-ster

  • July 13, 2024
Waarom voelt Robert Macintyre zich aangetrokken tot Oban, Schotland? Een bezoek aan het huis van de PGA Tour-ster